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Frustrated By Blood Glucose Inconsistency?

Frustrated By Blood Glucose Inconsistency?

If there’s a single concern I hear most often, as a certified diabetes educator counseling patients, it is with the frustrating unpredictability of blood glucose levels. You know, doing the same thing from one day to the next, and getting markedly different results on your blood glucose meter. Or, as most describe this experience, doing everything “right” and getting “bad” results. It’s my job to talk my patients “off the ledge,” so to speak, and they can be quite upset. Chances are that you find yourself upset by this same inconsistency now and then. Boy, do I understand!

I experience the same frustrations, certainly weekly, and probably daily if I really think about it. Frequently, there are times when my blood glucose levels make no sense. And, I’m an “expert!” With decades of experience! And, most likely I have more effective “tools” to manage blood glucose than you – I can dial up any sized dose of insulin with the push of a button on my insulin pump controller. So, how can I help you get more consistent and logical results from your BG meter? Well, I can’t. What I can do, however, is help you look at this issue differently.

Change of attittude about blood glucose results

First, I’ll skip over the possible explanations. It’s good to know intellectually that our bodies aren’t machines, and that stress and illness and hormones and who knows what else (weather?) affect our metabolism. And, no doubt the way we mix foods when we eat can affect digestion. These “informational” explanations don’t seem to blunt the “emotional” reaction we have to seeing an unexpectedly high blood glucose result. What does help, however, is to reframe our thinking.

  1. Do you call the act of sampling blood for glucose results “testing” blood sugar? If you do, you probably also consider the unexpected result a “failure” – or maybe a D minus. Try substituting the word “checking” blood sugar – getting information without judgement. This is not a test.
  2. Golfers tend to focus on the shot that barely nicked a tree branch and fell into the rough, and forget the shot that ricocheted off of four trees and kicked out into the middle of the fairway. Chances are we have as many (or more) unexpected “in range” blood glucose readings – we just don’t remember them, but we should.
  3. Remember A1C – a reasonable representation of your average blood glucose levels, even when you’re not looking. Managing diabetes effectively is about averages.

I can promise you a change of attitude about your blood glucose results will help. I can also promise you that you’ll need to remind yourself of this now and then – just like I do.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    2 years ago

    Good article. My problem is let’s say I eat something for first time. Get a bad read. But want to give it a second chance so to speak. Second time round comes in with a good read. And the next few times same. Then after a few times of good ones I’m getting bad reads from it.
    I know that it happens. But try explaining that to someone else. They can’t understand that it’s going to happen and we actually have no control when it does. It just does. I had a dietitian tell me once, “You’re diabetic. It’s going to happen. You will have good reads with something and then some bad ones and vice-versa. Don’t let it get to you, just do best you can and remember that you’re diabetic and it’s going to happen.” So, I kinda expect it but do caught off guard at same time. And as I said trying to tell someone that it’s going to happen, I’m diabetic and will have ups and downs with eating same thing just doesn’t make sense to them. First thing they say is you need to stop eating that. Wait a minute, let’s not get super drastic yet. Maybe if continue to show up with bad reads after eating it then I would agree but just to cut self off because all of a sudden I have a bad read after having several good ones with something don’t make much sense. Or am I missing something here?

  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    2 years ago

    Good to see that you know what everyone is going through since you also suffer the same thing(not meaning this in any ill format) as the rest. So many don’t understand and at times seem to beat around the bush so to speak in explanations.

    Not only do we as a diabetic deal with the meter but also trying to explain to family(food cops, controlling food cops etc) that s**t happens.

    That we can get great reads after a meal and then all of a sudden we get a high read and it’s the exact same meal that we got such good after meal reads before. Or how it will start out with a high read but you give it a couple more chances and it goes down to a good one and run good for a while then back up.

    And they still insist on telling you what you should do and not do because so and so does this or that and don’t do what you do or some television doctor on a talk show says you should be below 120 at all times.

    Ask if that so called doctor explains how everyone is different in way they get treated or that not all will work with everyone, that they should go by what their doctor says and answer was no. Then I tell I don’t want to hear anymore about what that ‘doctor’ has to tell because he’s not giving full information and giving a scare tactic. All that kind of thing does is stir up more stress because the person running to you telling you what you need to do don’t have good information and think they mean well when they don’t know what’s really going on.

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